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Harvard Self-Correcting

In the midst of great prosperity, like that enjoyed by Harvard University, it’s easy to get carried away and imagine that an institution has no need of its history or heritage. Harvard is known as the world’s greatest university for one reason: it has been the world’s greatest university–for a long time.

The University has a staggering $53 billion endowment. Harvard’s reputation for excellence is admired by alumni and prospective students around the world. Succeeding at Harvard means something.

This is why, when recent failures arose and were amplified by media coverage, the Harvard community reacted quickly. The University president was caught in a public nightmare in which she, trying to think within the insane context of modern liberal ideology, couldn’t get herself to admit that calling for the extermination of Jews (of all people) was an abuse of Harvard’s “free speech” policy. She chose to entrust her career to the protection of those who urge leaders on in this insanity only to find that this community isn’t the community that actually made or sustains Harvard University.

Worse, and even more inexplicably, she was found guilty of multiple instances of plagiarism throughout her academic career. In every course at Harvard, plagiarism is railed against as the unpardonable sin of academia. Yet, for the same of some goofy cultural objective, it put a plagiarist at the head of the University. Every time I’ve heard a professor talk about plagiarism recently, I’ve thought to myself, “How can this president remain in office?” The situation has definitely made its way into my thoughts about Harvard and I’m sure it’s affected many others as well.

This attempt to put a female minority in a position of leadership she is not qualified for is an insult to all of the female minorities who are actually qualified to lead. Worst, to have the leader of Harvard University not be one of the most universally respected intellectual leaders in the world is, again, impossible to comprehend. Again, the school is sitting on a $53 billion endowment. It can hire the best. That’s what the endowment is for. Instead of honoring blacks or women, we now read this:

“Dr. Gay’s resignation marked an abrupt end to a turbulent tenure that began in July. Her stint was the shortest of any president in the history of Harvard since its founding in 1636. She was the institution’s first Black president, and the second woman to lead the university.”

So much for advancing the cause. (This never works.)

Oh, and the black, anti-Semitic, plagiarizing female was replaced by a white, Jewish, widely-respected male–Dr. Alan Garber (below). Seeing the caliber of scholars Harvard has, well, all over the place, makes the whole debacle look even more ridiculous.

My experience studying at Harvard has been more than I hoped for. The people and resources are wonderful. The courses are brilliant and challenging. The community is humble and generous. To have these distractions caused by a few individuals on a global stage really misrepresents the University.

Thankfully, Harvard has been forced to correct this embarrassing error–and it will do so. It will not make this mistake again–well, at least until it is prospering again and can take its heritage for granted. Then, it will repeat its folly.

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